Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Keeping fireworks fun, legal and safe

Tips for how to celebrate without tempting danger


    Firefighters in the Wood River Valley are recommending that residents use caution when lighting fireworks this Fourth of July.
    By law Blaine County folks are limited to using “safe and sane” fireworks, like sparklers and cylindrical fountains that have a fixed base. Class “C” fireworks, like Roman candles and bottle rockets, are illegal.
    Fireworks are growing safer as the result of federal safety guidelines in the United States. But if you’re setting off fireworks, it’s important to use legal ones. Legal fireworks bear the name of the item, the name of the manufacturer or distributor, safety warnings and instructions for proper use.

Common fireworks

    Among the common fireworks available are:

  •  Sparklers: sparkling firesticks that can be hand-held.
  •  Fountains: spray upward from the ground, providing a “volcano” or “reverse-waterfall effect” instead of launching high into the air.
  •  Roman candles: classic fireworks that shoot “balls” or “stars” into the air; larger candles have balls or stars that get bigger or go higher. However, it’s worth noting again, Class “C” fireworks, like Roman candles and bottle rockets, are illegal in Blaine County.
  •  Sound shells: small fireworks that each have a distinct visual or auditory effect prior to detonation and finish with a loud bang.
  •  Wheels: a type of fountain, with the center hammered into a post. When lighted, it spins into a whistling, sparkling wheel of fire.

    Illegal fireworks cause serious injury. Other examples include cherry bombs, silver salutes, M-80s, M-100s, blockbusters or quarter-pounders, which all contain large amounts of explosives. They are unlabeled, lack a caution statement and will not list the manufacturer’s name.

Keep it safe

    Follow these tips to ensure a safe holiday, courtesy of the National Council on Fireworks Safety ( and the Consumer Products Safety Commission (

  •  Always read and follow directions. Light only one firework at a time. Never reignite malfunctioning fireworks. Always have a garden hose and water handy.
  •  Set them off with caution. Use fireworks outdoors only in a wide, clear site away from overhead obstacles, buildings, vehicles, plants and other combustible materials. High winds can be hazardous, so do not fire in excessively windy conditions. Carry only one firework at a time in the original bag or box to the lighting area. Keep all other fireworks a safe distance away so they don’t accidentally become ignited.
  •  Never give fireworks to young children. Adults should supervise all fireworks activities involving children.
  •  Shooters should be safe. The fireworks shooter should wear eye protection and never have any part of their body over the firework.
  •  Never throw or point fireworks at people or animals. Also, don’t shoot fireworks into metal or glass containers.
  •  Never stand directly over fireworks when lighting them, and once they’re lit, move away quickly to a safe distance.
  •  Use fireworks with care. Buy from reliable sources. Never make your own fireworks or buy a kit to make your own—mixing and loading chemical powders can injure or kill you.
  •  Store with caution. If possible, don’t store fireworks. If you have to, keep them in a cool, dry place and out of the reach of children. l To dispose of a discharged firework, wait 15 to 20 minutes before handling. Soak it in a bucket of water before putting it in the garbage.

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